Hoteliers often pride themselves on providing a positive guest experience. Much of that discussion focuses on the on-property experience. While on-property happenings are certainly important, it’s also imperative to remember the guest experience doesn’t start when travelers arrive at a hotel. There are many different touchpoints before, during, and after the stay that work together to make a cohesive guest experience.
Personalizing the guest experience occurs across many channels; determining usable channels needs more attention or starting with an omnichannel. Data can help determine the best strategy.
1. Personalize Pricing—Even Without an RMS
Even without a revenue management system (RMS), a customer relationship management system (CRM) can tell the central reservation system (CRS) the personalized offers guests qualify for based on their past stay history and preferences. From there, hoteliers can price deals as part of a dynamic revenue strategy.
This allows hotels to run exclusive offers for repeat or known guests or a specified segment of these individuals to boost occupancies over need periods and shoulder dates without reducing retail rates. This strengthens the relationship between the guest and the brand and can make booking special offers easier for the guest.
As hoteliers are trying to do more with fewer resources throughout an enhanced labor shortage, the automation process offers an opportunity to boost both the guest and employee experience. There’s no manual interaction and no checking of a list, but guests get what they want, starting their stay off on the right foot.
2. Don’t Forget the Call Center
Digital transformation has been keen during the pandemic. Just because customers might think digital first doesn’t mean strategies should be digital only. The call center is still a crucial channel. The contact center isn’t a dying channel; it’s a necessary step that becomes especially important if guests can’t complete their intended tasks online. That means the contact center is just as important as an online booking channel.
The call center should have the same booking flow as the booking engine, giving agents the ability to personalize pricing like a booking engine.
Important guest data that should be in every CRM and can determine personalized pricing and offers include:
- When the guest last stayed at the property
- Loyalty information (i.e., how long the guest has been a member)
- Stay preferences (i.e., floor preference)
Demographic information can determine what rates a customer qualifies for, special offers, or rates. When systems are integrated, the CRM connects seamlessly with the CRS; the data is shared between all relevant channels, including the contact center and front desk. Every channel can offer more that provide instant gratification for guests. Then, converting lookers to bookers becomes more powerful when an agent is able to offer free nights.
Of course, bookers need to give some information so that agents can identify what they qualify for. Once they give their information, agents can turn them into a known guest even if they haven’t stayed with the specific hotel before and don’t have a profile. Once a profile is created, their information and data can be curated.
3. Recognize Guests to Increase ADR
Hoteliers should consider adding a recognition program—one that provides instant gratification to guests either via offers, special rates, discounts, or more. Guests who are part of recognition programs will spend more on property, leading to a higher average daily rate. Even though guests are booking a discounted room, their room rate is still higher because they are booking direct so the hotel doesn’t have to pay commission to a third party.
For example, if the rack rate is $100 and the member rate is $90, a hotel will still make more money on the member than a guest who books through an online travel agency at a 20 percent commission. Even though customer perception is that they are paying less, the customer who books directly has a higher value. Additionally, the guest is now trained to book direct, offering them a better booking experience, making more money, and cutting down on costly booking channels like OTAs.
Guest recognition needs to be meaningful to add to the guest experience. With a consistently well-run recognition program, guests will be less price sensitive and will routinely rebook a hotel or brand. Knowing they will receive a specific level of service and quality, price becomes less of an issue. For brands that reward based on stay patterns, guests will be increasing their status within the program and be eligible for more benefits.
To truly provide an omnichannel guest experience that is personalized, systems—from the PMS, CRM, CRS, and everything in between—will all need to be seamlessly integrated. They need to communicate with one another and share relevant data so that hoteliers can make the best decisions to drive revenue—whether that be through automation or empowering teams.
About the Author
Allegra Medina is director of product management at SHR.